The humble Bramley apple is something of a nation’s favourite; these reliable cooking apples taste delicious in cakes, pastries, puddings and home preserves, and their size means they go a long way. Whilst they’re ripe and ready to pick from the tree in late September to October, they store extremely well for quite a few months, so you should still be able to find them in your local greengrocers.
All apples are great sources of fibre, vitamin C and potassium, as well as all sorts of antioxidants, which means they are great to make use of on a regular basis - and Bramleys are no different. In today’s blog post, we take a look at some new preserving ideas for how to use those brilliant cookers, to give you some fresh inspiration for your own culinary creations.
Jam Jars At The Ready
If you’ve never tried apple butter before, you’re in for a real treat with this recipe, as it is one of the most delicious secrets there is; quite why so few people try it, we’ll never know! It’s sensational spread on hot, buttered toast, drizzled on ice cream or stirred into Greek yoghurt. Here’s the recipe…
3kg Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
900g caster sugar
½ tsp ground cloves
3tsp ground cinnamon
Make sure the apple is chopped into small cubes, then cook slowly in a large pan, or in a slow cooker, with the caster sugar, cloves and cinnamon.
Cook very slowly until the apple mixture is thick and dark; in a slow cooker this could be up to 8 hours. Check regularly to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once the mixture is fairly soft, use a hand or electric whisk to smooth out any lumps When the mixture is quite thick and dark, remove from the heat and spoon into clean, sterilised jam jars. Seal with lids and label, then place in the fridge. If you want to freeze your apple butter, use plastic tubs instead of glass jars.
Making Apple Jelly:
Another brilliant home preserve that often gets overlooked is a fruit jelly. These are ideal as an accompaniment to cold meats, cheese boards and for use in game stews and casseroles. In this recipe, we combine the delicious flavour of Bramley apples with the punch of gin-soaked sloes that are left over from a bottle of sloe gin! Here’s the recipe…
1kg Bramley apples
300g of leftover sloes from a bottle of sloe gin
1kg sugar, approximately
Wash the apples and chop into rough lumps, leaving the cores and peel in place. Put the apple, peel and cores into a large maslin pan, along with the boozy sloes.
Add about 200ml of water, or enough to come half way up the fruit in the pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently until the fruit is very soft.
Pour the fruit through a sterilised muslin cloth or a straining bag, allowing it plenty of time to drip through the cloth or bag. You can line a sieve with muslin, then balance the sieve over a large bowl and leave it to drip through slowly. Don’t be tempted to press the fruit through the muslin, as this will give you cloudy jelly. Leave the jelly to drip overnight, covering the top to prevent any flies or dust getting in.
In the morning, measure how much juice has strained through, and calculate how much sugar to use. For every 600ml of strained juice, use 700g of sugar.
Place the juice and the sugar back into a maslin pan, and heat gently to dissolve the sugar, stirring from time to time. Once all of the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture gently to the boil and keep on a rolling boil for about 10 minutes.
Check for setting point (105°C) using a jam thermometer and once this is reached, pour the jelly into clean, sterilised glass jars. Seal and label, and once cool, store in a cool, dry cupboard.
Other Ideas For Bramley Apples
We’ve given you two ideas for more unusual apple preserves, but so far, we haven’t mentioned jam. For some reason, apple is often mixed with another fruit when making jam, such as blackberries or plums, but actually, apple jam itself is a real treat, made with just a hint of cinnamon to bring out the flavours.
Try it for yourself, again cooking the apples first with their peel and cores in the pan. This ensures that there is plenty of pectin in the jam mixture to help you get the perfect set. Once you’ve got the apple mixture soft and pulpy, you can strain the cores, pips and peel out to give you a smooth consistency for when you add your sugar. Adding vanilla instead of cinnamon is another great idea and it gives a really lovely flavour.